EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) - The New York Jets scored on a 16-yard touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes with 61 seconds remaining to beat the Buffalo Bills 28-24 on Sunday and revive their playoff hopes.
Trailing by three points, New York marched 82 yards in 12 plays on a final drive that was kept alive by a one-handed, 18-yard catch by Plaxico Burress with the home team facing a third-and-11 from the Bills 36-yard line.
“I don’t know how many receivers in the league make that catch,” Ryan said about the 6-foot-5 Burress, whose catch was followed by the winning score two plays later.
“The way he went up and one-handed it? That was a ridiculous catch. If he didn’t catch it, we would have had to launch a field goal from 50-something yards (to tie) instead of going for the win.”
The win snapped the Jets’ (6-5) two-game skid and allowed them to keep in the AFC East playoff picture with New England Patriots. The Bills (5-6) lost their fourth straight.
The Bills, who had been outscored 106-26 in their last three games, battled the Jets tooth and nail in the AFC East thriller before coming up just short.
“We finally played better today,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the plays and it hurts. It hurts really bad right now.”
Buffalo overcame a 21-14 third-quarter deficit to tie the score when former Jet Brad Smith hauled in a 36-yard touchdown throw on the first play after recovering a muffed catch of a punt by Antonio Cromartie.
Buffalo took a 24-21 lead early in the fourth quarter on a 53-yard field goal by Dave Rayner.
After New York regained the lead with their late drive, Buffalo threatened one last time, moving the ball from their 27-yard line to the Jets 24.
But three Fitzgerald throws into the end zone came up empty and time ran out after the Buffalo quarterback’s last desperate attempt to an outstretched Stevie Johnson.
Johnson was a major character in the Week 12 game, catching a TD pass, taking a key penalty with an excessive celebration in the end zone, and dropping a pass during Buffalo’s last gasp drive that might have gone for a game-winning score.
New York began to turn the game around after an excessive celebration penalty on Johnson after his five-yard catch put Buffalo ahead 14-7 late in the second quarter.
Johnson mimicked someone being shot in the leg -- a clear reference to Burress, who served 20 months in prison for shooting himself in the leg in a nightclub in 2008 -- and then spread his arms to mock the Jets’ “flight” celebration before crashing to the ground.
The penalty pushed the Bills back to their own 20 for the ensuing kickoff and when Rayner mis-hit the ball trying for a squib kick, the Jets took possession on the Buffalo 36.
Four plays later the Jets scored when Mark Sanchez, who had a career-high four touchdown passes in the win, found a wide open Burress for a 14-yard score that tied it 14-14 with a minute to go before intermission.
“It hurt our team,” Johnson, who also dropped a wide-open pass that looked like a possible touchdown on the final drive, said about his celebration.
“It was very stupid of me going through that and I feel like I cost our team the win by doing that.”
Editing by Frank Pingue